Kimchi Noodles (김치면)
Updated: Oct 10, 2020
Korean food is having a bit of a moment right now. Even today, in the NYT, there's an article about banchan (the small side dishes that you get at Korean restaurants). I'm not sure if it's all of the dramas on Netflix, or the crazy success of BLACKPINK and BTS, but it's great that the world is finally learning.
I'm a teacher, and my students used to think I was weird when I would use a drama as a reference or make them listen to Korean hip hop during work time. Now they request BTS or "Stray Kids" (I don't even know who the Stray Kids are). It throws me for a bit of a loop, especially out here in rural Virginia where diversity is not our strong suit.
Around the country there are constant reminders of the bias and downright hate that still exists in the world and the US, but these kids give me hope. They're open, and curious, and more aware of the world than I was at their age.
I love seeing my kids walk in to class with boba or a Japanese soda. I love that my students will watch K-drama and not complain about reading subtitles or will try and teach me K-pop dance moves (thankfully there's no video).
A few times throughout the year, I do a Feast Day in my advisory. Everyone is supposed to bring in their favorite food, or something that represents their culture, or a dish that just reminds them of home (we have a loose theme each time). It's amazing what the kids will bring in. For some it's an opportunity to proudly show off their culture, and for others it's a great chance to learn. For all of us, it's a chance to open up a little about who we are and engage others. One year, we had 5 different versions of Jollof Rice (a West African rice dish) that were each very different but delicious. Feast Day is the best.
I usually bring Beef Bulgogi or Japchae, and Kimchi. The Beef Bulgogi and Japchae I bring because they're a little more accessible to those unaccustomed to eating Korean food. The Kimchi I usually bring to push their limits a bit (if they want to). For the last feast we had before COVID, the kids begged me to bring a lot of kimchi because we had run out last time. I expected them to think it was weird, but they didn't. They loved it.
When I was a little kid, the only "foreign" food that I knew was Chinese. My grandfather would make Chop Suey as a special treat when we went to visit. I didn't try sushi until my mid 20s. My exposure to other cultures was limited, to say the least. Most of my students won't have this problem. Asian grocery stores are no longer strange little places in run down strip malls - they are bright, clean, huge and inviting stores with quality restaurants and aquarium sized seafood departments. About an hour east of here, there are more Bahn mi joints, Boba shops, and Korean restaurants than I can count. Foods of the world are accessible now.
Sure, all of those foods were trendy and had their moments, but I don't think those moments ever really died. My students still drive out to get pho with their friends, and they're begging me to open a Korean joint in our tiny town. They are curious. They want to know about other cultures and they're accessing them through food. True, eating kimchi isn't going to tell you everything about what it's like to be a Korean, or a Korean in America, but it's a start. It opens a dialogue and feeds a curiosity that gives me great hope that lingering biases are on their way out.
So, in times of despair, eat some kimchi, or try a new recipe from across the globe, and remember: There's hope.
But What About the Noodles???
I have been making my own noodles on the regular and this time I tried something a bit new and a little crazy. My wife did not have a good feeling about this venture.
My sister-in-law was coming over and my wife promised her jjajangmyeon. And, what goes great with Jjajangmyeon? Kimchi! So, what if we make the noodles out of kimchi? Brilliant right?
I think so.
The noodles have a little kick. However, the flavor is more about the added depth of flavor that the kimchi gives the noodles. They're good enough to eat on their own, but try adding a tiny bit of salt and some sesame oil. Even better, throw them in jjajangmyeon.
Using a dough hook, blend the flour, starch, salt, liquified kimchi and kimchi juice until you start to get a firm but sticky ball.
The dough for the kimchi noodles is a bit more wet and sticky than normal noodle dough. That's okay. Don't go crazy adding extra flour. Put it in a floured bowl and stick it in the fridge for at least 45 minutes.
I worked the dough in small batches. The flour you add to your counter or wherever you roll it out will help firm it up a bit more and make it not so sticky. Knead it with your hands and then roll it out on a well floured surface. After rolling it out, flour it again and fold it to cut the noodles. You can also run it through a pasta machine set to cut wide pasta.
I looked hard to see if this had been done before and I could not find anything. This surprises me. So, if you know of another recipe for this, let me know. Otherwise, enjoy the best thing that I will ever come up with.
2 cups of flour
3 teaspoons of potato starch
2/3 cup of liquified kimchi (use a blender)
1 teaspoon of salt
2 tablespoons of kimchi juice
Put flour, salt, and potato starch in a bowl and mix together.
Add kimchi and mix on low until the dough starts to come together.
When the kimchi seems to be incorporated as well as it's going to be, add in the kimchi juice a little at a time.
Let mixer run for 6 or 7 minutes to make sure everything is well mixed. Add flour or more kimchi juice to get an ideal consistency.
Remove dough from mixer and knead with hands for a minute and place in a floured bowl.
6. Place in fridge for about 45 minutes and then roll out on a well floured surface. Either fold the dough into thirds and cut the noodles or use a pasta maker. I found there wasn't enough elasticity to pull or bang the noodles out.
If you're going for the jjajangmyeon + kimchi noodle combo, check out my jjajangmyeon post here.